Sphere | 2018 (8 March) | 416p | Review copy | Buy the book
One year ago Caroline Johnson jumped to her death off Beachy Head, just a few months after her husband Tom did exactly the same thing. This is almost more than their daughter Anna can bear. Anna is herself the mother of a small baby, a child that her parents never knew. In an irony that isn’t lost on Anna, her partner is the therapist who tried to help her through her grief. Without her parents’ deaths, she would never have met him and she wouldn’t have her beautiful child, but there is a hole in Anna’s life that is filled with grief and questions. Why did her mother kill herself when she knew so well how the suicide of her husband had affected them all? It doesn’t feel right. And when one day Anna receives a disturbing message, she begins to think that maybe it actually wasn’t right. That perhaps her parents were murdered.
It’s unlikely that the police would be interested in Anna’s claims but luckily for her she comes across retired detective Murray who is passing his time helping out the police as a civilian. There’s something about Anna’s claims that catches his attention and the more he learns, the more he’s inclined to believe her. He has another voice in his ear encouraging him – Murray’s wife Sarah, a woman who fills Murray’s life with worry but so much love.
Clare Mackintosh is the master of the twisty thriller – the brilliant I Let You Go is one of the most memorable thrillers I’ve read – and so I couldn’t wait to read Let Me Lie. Let Me Lie is another very twisty tale, and, as you’d expect from a Clare Mackintosh novel, the shocks come thick and fast. This is not an author who likes the reader to feel complacent and settled!
Surprisingly, though, I enjoyed Let Me Lie most of all not for its main story and its surprises, but for its truly wonderful portrayal of Murray and Sarah. I absolutely loved these characters. They are drawn with such tenderness and care and learning about their lives together was, with no doubt at all, the most appealing aspect of the entire book for me. The twists became almost an irrelevance when placed against such beautiful storytelling.
The author’s novels are inevitably going to be compared with I Let You Go which, in my eyes, is a masterpiece of the genre. I did feel that Let Me Lie suffered with the comparison, largely because I guessed the twists in the plot and I had a pretty good idea very early on how things were going to develop. I do, of course, read a lot of crime fiction and psychological thrillers (largely thanks to I Let You Go) and so I’m pretty good at spotting things these days. Also I didn’t especially care for Anna and the other characters in her family and life. But I suspect that many readers will love this twisty tale.
However, the Murray and Sarah story means that I hung on to every word of their lives and it’s these two that I’ll remember, proving once more what a wonderful writer and storyteller Clare Mackintosh is, especially when freed of the requirement for the obligatory twist.